Heterodox Paper 1

Submitted By jweinreb
Words: 5282
Pages: 22

Jacqueline Weinreb
Heterodox Identities
March 23rd, 2014
Paper #1

Social scientists as well as philosophers have argued and pondered for years over the complex relationship between race and identity. Race has always been a hot topic, even when the United States was still being established. Since then, theorists have not only struggled with their own ways of interpreting the two, but opposing perspectives as well. In addition to the complex components of race and identity, social scientists also must to deal with the ramifications that arise given the issues that surround the two. The sociology of race and of ethnic relations is the area of discipline that studies the social, political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities at all levels of society. Additionally, it includes the study of several complex social processes between different racial and ethnic groups. Many social scientists have discussed the relationships either by experiences of individual racial-ethnic groups or embracing theoretical issues. People are entitled to their own opinions especially in this case where social scientists typically have their own perception of what exactly connects identity with race. Despite the fact philosophers do in fact have different views, they do tend to overlap from time-to-time. The readings based on the work of F. James Davis, Anthony Appiah, Sarah Daynes, Orville Lee, Judith Butler, Horace Kallen and Robert Park give us insight into ways their work overlaps and differs from each other. W.E.B. Du Bois is known for being a classical theorist in the sociological concept of race. He has been recognized for his significant contributions to the development of the sociological theory. In his earlier work, Du Bois claimed that the ‘race idea’ was the central thought of all history and that the “problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the color line” (Du Bois, 178-181). Du Bois believed the goal of African Americans was not one of integration into white America, but one of “Pan-Negroism”. Coined by Du Bois, Pan-Negroism (or Pain-African) “was to facilitate the industrial and spiritual emancipation of the Negro people” (Du Bois, 178-181). Pan Negroism was a racial unity of people of African descent. An important marker in Du Bois’ work and theory of race was the establishment of the ‘veil’ and ‘double consciousness,’ introduced in his work, The Souls of Black Folk. The “Veil” is an imaginary barrier that separates whites and blacks. Du Bois hoped his work would allow whites to glimpse behind the veil and hopefully begin to understand what the experience was like for blacks in America. One of the most essential components of black’s experience was what he referred to as “double consciousness.” In other words, blacks are simultaneously both inside and outside the more dominant white society and left with a feeling of twoness. By trying to preserve a racial identity, blacks come into conflict with trying to fit into a white society. With his education and learning experience, Du Bois sought to enlighten others on the social injustices against people. Both the introduction of the terms Veil and double consciousness are examples of this. Double consciousness describes the individual sensation of feeling as though your identity is divided into several parts, making it difficult or even impossible to have one unified identity. Du Bois spoke of this within the context of race relations in the United States. He asserted that since American blacks have lived in a society that has historically repressed and devalued them that it has been difficult for them to unify their black identity with their American identity. Double consciousness forces blacks to not only view themselves from their own perspective, but to also view themselves as they might be perceived by the outside world. Du Bois references this on page 351 when he states “the sense of looking at one’s self through the eyes of